Hoeven Announces Nearly $200,000 in Funding for Hazmat Emergency Preparedness for North Dakota Communities

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), has awarded North Dakota $191,512 in formula funding from its Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) Grant program. The funds will support the development of emergency plans for local communities as well as training for local first responders to help communities prepare for potential hazmat transportation incidents.

“We’ve been working closely with DOT as well as industry and community leaders to improve the safety of transportation in our communities,” said Hoeven. “These funds will support the work we’ve done by helping state and local leaders develop and improve their emergency plans, preparing our emergency responders to protect our residents and themselves when accidents occur.”

Earlier this week, Hoeven responded to DOT’s proposed rules for governing rail tanker cars. The senator has been pressing DOT since December 2012 to finalize standards to ensure that the industry can transition to the newer, safer tanker cars in a timely manner. Communities and stakeholders have 60 days to submit public comment on the proposed rules and options for speed restrictions, classification methodology and rail tank standards to ensure they are workable and improve safety. The final rule will be established early next year.

In January, Hoeven organized a meeting with DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) head Cynthia Quarterman, and a group of industry leaders to press for a comprehensive rail safety strategy. In April, Hoeven hosted Foxx and the other stakeholders in Casselton to help advance a comprehensive approach to transporting crude oil safely by rail.

In addition, Senator Hoeven will host, in partnership with Senator Heitkamp, GATX Corporation and BNSF, a railcar safety training event this October in Fargo, North Dakota for emergency responders using GATX’s TankTrainerTM and Classroom Car. This training is part of BNSF’s ongoing Hazmat training program for communities, which is designed to aid local emergency responders in how to prepare for and respond to possible hazardous materials transportation incidents through a combination of hands-on training and emergency planning.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to include rail safety provisions in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, including increased inspectors and track inspections, making sure products are shipped in the right containers, implementing Positive Train Control (PTC) technology, which monitors and controls train movements to provide increased safety, enhancing emergency response training and issuing guidelines for safer tanker car construction.